LinkedIn to Get In: Increasing student awareness and confidence in professional networking through embedding LinkedIn into undergraduate bioscience course

McGregor, A. , Sherry, L. , Price, K. , Le Vin, A. , Stubbs, F., Boguslawska, Z. and Connor, K. (2022) LinkedIn to Get In: Increasing student awareness and confidence in professional networking through embedding LinkedIn into undergraduate bioscience course. 15th Annual University of Glasgow Learning and Teaching Conference, 29 Mar 2022.

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Embedding career development into the undergraduate curriculum has been recognised as an important aspect of the university experience, in order to help students transition into careers across different industries in the real world. Particularly given the online nature of education over the past 2 years, supporting students to nuture their own professional connections within their discipline using online platforms as well as separate their emerging professional networks from their existing social ones are important parts of effective career development that are not frequently integrated into the university experience. LinkedIn is one freely available option that can be used by undergraduate students as an effective professional networking platform, particularly as networks within (Peterson and Dover 2014; Mogaji 2019), and some staff have started to develop ways of scaffolding this within curricula (Rodin et al. 2015 ; Daniels and Dempsey 2021). Several degrees within the School of Life Sciences have initiated degree-specific closed LinkedIn groups limited to staff and current students and former graduates, however levels of student awareness and engagement with this platform are currently uncertain, particularly in the biosciences. In addition, levels of student confidence about professional networking are also unknown and could influence students’ abilities to gain these crucial real-world skills. This project aims to explore these issues of student awareness, confidence and engagement with professional networking online with two groups of third-year students from the Animal Biology and Microbiology/Immunology degree groups in the School of Life Sciences. An online questionnaire was used to evaluate student awareness and confidence levels of using LinkedIn. They were then asked to join a closed group available only to students and graduates within their degree and conduct a small-group interview with a particular graduate of their degree. Results of these surveys suggest interest in using these groups but a lack of confidence in using them, as students were willing to like and comment on others’ posts, but not contribute their own. Future work aims to involve student interns to encourage professional interaction and career development through online platforms such as LinkedIn. We also suggest that creating closed groups in LinkedIn are a time-efficient way to allow both students and staff to maintain connections with former students across the globe, particularly because they allow students to find role models that are most relevant to themselves and then build and maintain shared connections that can support them entering careers in the real world.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Connor, Miss Katie and Le Vin, Dr Ashley and Stubbs, Fiona and Sherry, Dr Leighann and Boguslawska, Ms Zuzanna and Mcgregor, Dr Anna and Price, Dr Katherine
Authors: McGregor, A., Sherry, L., Price, K., Le Vin, A., Stubbs, F., Boguslawska, Z., and Connor, K.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Life Sciences
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